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MICROWAVE

Sauerbraten: You Get the Same Tenderness in Half the Time

April 01, 1993|THELMA SNYDER and MARCIA CONE

In some households, making sauerbraten is an occasion for celebration. Sauerbraten, for those uninitiated in German culinary traditions, is a rump roast that has been marinated in red wine vinegar, vegetables and spices for days before it is cooked. This sour soaking blends beautifully with the gingersnap cookies that are crushed up and added during the cooking process. The gingersnaps also give the thick sauce its rich brown color.

The microwave can't cut down on the three- to six-day marinating process, but the cooking will take about 1 1/2 hours compared to the 3 1/2 hours it traditionally takes. And yes, you'll still have a tender, tasty roast.

Sauerbraten is usually served with red cabbage, which can be made in the microwave earlier in the day and reheated while the meat stands. You might also add homemade potato pancakes or spaetzle, which are cooked on top of the range while the meat is cooking.

Green applesauce, pepped up with red wine for flavor and color, is a side dish that can be made in the microwave a day in advance and chilled. The cool applesauce makes a nice contrast with the hot meat and cabbage.

SAUERBRATEN

1 (3- to 4-pound) beef rump or bottom round

6 cloves

1 bay leaf

2 medium carrots, peeled or scrubbed and sliced

1 stalk celery, sliced

1 medium onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup dry red wine or water

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

8 gingersnaps, crushed (3/4 to 1 cup)

1 tablespoon flour

1/4 cup beef broth

Pierce meat with fork in several places and place in 3-quart rectangular microwave-proof casserole. Tie cloves and bay leaf in cheesecloth bag and add to casserole along with carrots, celery, onion, garlic, wine, vinegar, salt and pepper. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 3 to 6 days, turning over twice first day and once every day after that.

After marinating, discard cheesecloth bag. Add gingersnaps. Cover casserole tightly and microwave on HIGH (100% power) 15 minutes. Stir gravy. Cover again and microwave on MEDIUM (50% power) until meat is tender, 60 to 65 minutes, turning roast over after 30 minutes. Let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Transfer cooked roast to serving platter and cover with foil.

Force cooking liquid and vegetables through sieve or place in food processor in 2 batches to puree. Whisk together flour and beef broth in small bowl and stir into pureed vegetable mixture. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH until gravy is boiling and thickened, 4 to 6 minutes, stirring once. Serve sliced roast with gravy on side. Makes 8 servings.

BRAISED SWEET-AND-SOUR RED CABBAGE

2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, or 1 tablespoon butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 (2-pound) head red cabbage, shredded

2 medium tart apples, unpeeled, cored and thinly sliced

1/2 cup dry red wine

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar or 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon caraway seeds, optional

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine bacon and onion in 3-quart microwave-proof casserole. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) until onion is tender, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in cabbage, apples, wine, vinegar, sugar, caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Cover tightly and microwave on HIGH 10 minutes. Stir. Cover again and microwave on MEDIUM (50% power) until cabbage is tender and flavors are well blended, 30 to 40 minutes more. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

*

The red wine adds a rosy color to the green apples, but you may substitute unpeeled red cooking apples if you don't want to use the wine.

ROSY GREEN APPLE APPLESAUCE

2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and quartered

1/4 cup red wine

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

Combine apples, wine and lemon juice in 2-quart microwave-proof casserole. Cover with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly on 1 side, and microwave on HIGH (100% power) 5 minutes. Stir. Cover again and microwave on HIGH until apples are tender, 5 to 8 minutes.

Spoon apple mixture into food mill and puree, or force through sieve. Stir in sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Flavor is best if applesauce is made day in advance, covered and chilled. Makes 2 to 2 1/2 cups.

Note : To double applesauce, cook 4 pounds peeled, cored and quartered apples in 4-quart casserole to prevent boil-overs. Microwave on HIGH 15 to 20 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time.

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